Moonshine Poet…the beginnings…

This is how Moonshine Poet happened for me. After a five-year stint in Arizona, I returned home to Virginia and spent several days visiting my grandmother who, then, lived in Floyd county. She and I share the family genealogy bug and she handed me a newly discovered hundred-page deposition. What she found was kept a family secret for three generations, a suit for divorce in 1919.  The deposition vividly described my twice-great grandmother’s charges against her abusive husband. Each family member was deposed, even the children. Suddenly, my deceased relatives became real. 

The depositions were painful to read, even a century later. Yet…the story was there. As I re-read the document, my twice-great grandmother’s words and strength under interrogation leapt from the page.  It was her voice that prompted me to write.

Q: If he would come back and treat you as he did from the 10th - 24th of May 1919?

A: I would not. He was more abusive to the children then...I won’t
 turn my children for no man.

 This was  the story. I won’t turn my children for no man…One woman, who fought for herself and fought even harder for her family.  One woman unwilling to accept the circumstances of her time.



I Have So. Many. Questions.

I have so. many. questions.  I’m trying to see both sides of the re-open school issue. I teach in a rural district where internet access is the biggest hurdle for many of our families. Teaching in-person is much more effective than online. However, I still have questions.

Let’s begin with an overview:

  • Last year, we had to keep our classroom doors closed and locked because of school shooters. Now, it seems we should keep our doors open for ventilation.
  • And now, in Virginia, social distancing *just for schools* has been reduced from 6 feet to 3 feet. Nowhere else. Just for schools.
  • Then there are the claims that children do not spread Covid…yet I’m reading about an outbreak in Israeli schools, outbreaks in Texas, Oregon, and  other daycare centers….so?


Locked Doors and Spacing Changes:

Why? I don’t know. I guess you can ask the governor  or the Board of Education. But it seems that the 6 foot rule was just…too….difficult. Transportation, classroom set up. I get it. It is difficult. But why should children’s, teacher’s, and staff’s safety have weaker and less stringent rules than say, the grocery store? the coffee shop? hardware stores?

And I guess we don’t have to worry about shooters this year? I mean really, all a kid has to do is go to a Covid party, lick a doorknob, and come in and cough on everyone.

What about those little Covid Carriers?

All of this goes back to the current assertion that children do not spread Covid. We are six months or so into this and top scientists and doctors keep repeating this claim.

Here is a recent article in Vox by Dr. Linas that is in that “children don’t spread this” ballpark.

I have so.many.questions. for Dr. Linas. (Much of this is taken from my Twitter or Facebook discussions with friends). Please define children. What age groups? I teach high school juniors and seniors. They are young adults, 16, 17, and 18 years old.

Then, when scientists look at transmission rates in Europe, what is the covid rate of that entire town or district? Rates are low in schools, but aren’t they low overall in many areas? What differentiates Israel from France? *What happened* in the Israeli school or town? Then with some of the US studies – small sample of 15 families and is *anyone* going to research the daycare centers in TX and OR?

While it is nice to look at Iceland, Germany, and Denmark, and…yeah, that “one study in France,” we need to look at the big picture…Those societies as a whole had lower rates of infection *before* sending kids to school. Right? So comparing the USA to small, European countries doesn’t work.

Finally, I agree 100% with Dr. Linas’s testing recommendations. The problem is, we’re not doing that testing. I would feel a jillion times better if we could all be tested before walking into the building. If testing is not offered at school, how many people are going to pay to have asymptomatic kids tested off-site? And if I get tested off-site this week or next week, that really does not help for when school starts in August.

Carol Burris, award-winning educator and principal makes similar claims in the Washington Post,citing European successes and does help to explain what happened in Israel. Burris writes “…[Israeli] government decided to throw caution to the wind and abandon the safeguards it had put in place. Infections broke out in several schools that had to be shutdown.”


So…kids did get the virus? Right? Either from each other or from staff? Similar with the daycare situations (which I will soapbox upon in another post). And you’re telling me this kids won’t or didn’t bring it home to mom or dad, to grandma or grandpa? I’m just trying to understand the science here.

What NOT to Accept

“If you find your here and now intolerable…you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally.” Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now

I write about acceptance for many situations but these are the things NOT to accept. Ever.

– Physical Abuse
-Verbal Abuse
-Emotional Abuse

The National Domestic Violence hotline – 1−800−799−7233

Recommended Reading:

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans

Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft

Accepting What Is

Sometimes, we tell ourselves nice stories. When someone behaves badly, we try to figure out why…there must be a reason…rather than accepting this is who they are.

Maya Angelou wrote:

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

This truth can apply to many present day situations, but I’m going to apply it to our resident black snake.

He is a black snake. He is a wild animal. He is a predator. He eats our hen’s eggs and now, he is going after the hens.

The snake is not a pet. He will not be tamed. He is, simply, hungry and the chicken coop is right around the corner from his den.

Facts are facts. These are our choices:

  1. Kill the snake.
  2. Try to catch and re-home the snake.
  3. Let it stay until it’s succeeded in killing the hens.

Obviously, only the first two are options. One is easier than the other.

Scared hens burrow under each other’s wings.

Accepting the Snake

If you live in the southeast and spend time outdoors, chances are you’ve run across a black snake. These guys are not poisonous and are known for good things, like keeping away copperheads and mice.

There’s a black snake that lives under our house. He was here before we moved in. One day, years ago, my husband returned from walking the dog and there was the snake, coiled up and napping on the back door step. The snake retreated to his den, which seems to be through a crack in the concrete, under the step, under the house.

People asked, why don’t you kill the snake? Well. Why should I? He hasn’t done anything…yet.

“This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now.” Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

I don’t mind snakes. I certainly don’t want to come across a venomous one or spend a whole lot of time with a boa constrictor, but they do not send me into waves of fear like certain eight-legged (or six if you’re out west) crawly things. We let the black snake stay. He (or she) was big, probably five feet then, and – let’s be honest – he was there before us.
Then he discovered the chicken coop. For the past few years, he’s been an occasional visitor to the coop. Once a week in summer, maybe less. After September, he seemed to hibernate and when May hit, he’d show up now and then. He’d steal an egg or two…for us, if he kept away the rodents, we were willing to give up an egg from our small flock.


He likes to burrow under the woodshavings in the coop and has been locked in the coop overnight. His backside is scarred with marks from pecking beaks. He’d never hurt the hens that we saw, although one night, during a thunderstorm, he gave us all a big scare. There’s a chance, a chance, he was squeezing one of the hens.

So we accept the snake.
This is what led to my acceptance. Sometimes the hens squawk when the snake shows up. Sometimes not. Like this. They’re calm.


Sometimes its a surprise to open up the coop to collect eggs and there he is. This was one of the surprise times. I went back and got the broom to shoo him out – the usual method. And for the first time, I saw him with the egg already in his mouth. I’d never seen anything like it. I wasn’t a science kid, I’d never seen a snake eating up close.

It was amazing, to me, to watch him unhinge his jaw and swallow that egg whole. The entire process took about a half hour. I sat about a foot away and recorded him. The egg made its way past his throat, and into his body. I think I even heard a crunch of the crushed eggshell.

After he swallowed the egg, he rested in the coop. Snakes don’t move much after a meal. I even lifted him out with the broom and he just slithered to the porch step to rest some more.

I was fascinated. But I was also late for graduation (I teach, if you’re wondering). So I lifted him over the fence, where he curled up in the grass and warmed up in the sun.

I can accept this reptile who is doing his thing. He hadn’t hurt the hens and as long as he was limited to a single egg, this could work. I might just have a new pet.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: